Q&A: What size is recommended for a BSF pilot facility?

The first question you need to ask yourself, what is the goal of my pilot facility? If you just want to get acquainted with Black Soldier Fly farming and see it as a hobby, then all is good. Most likely you will make a small, insulated room and buy small volume of trays to try to grow the BSF larvae.

If you have a commercial interest in BSF farming, then this is an important consideration.

  • Does the pilot need to create interest from investors?
  • Should the pilot be representative of a commercial facility?
  • Is the only goal of the pilot to evaluate possible waste stream recipes?

Step 1, the pilot, needs to match with step 2 the expansion. In other words what do you need to showcase at the pilot to get green light for step 2? There are many examples of growers who started with a small volume of trays, gained a lot of experience, but after two years stopped their business because there was not enough consideration for what is needed for an expansion.

I dare to say don’t invest in a pilot when you don’t have a clear image of the purpose of the BSF pilot facility. This sounds logical but practice also shows that it needs to be said.

In most cases it’s a combination of the highlighted points above. The pilot needs to create extra funding to go commercially. To get this funding the pilot should be as representative as possible in comparison to the future commercial facility. And a main gap in your business plan is which recipe of which raw materials to use and what conversion does this give.

This means your pilot facility should become larger than your living room but smaller than an organic chicken farm. To make it concrete, calculate a minimal 250m2 floor surface and a maximum 500m2. Variation in size also depends on if you build from scratch or use an existing building. And if you for example also include the BSF processing to create insect protein and oil at the pilot facility or that this is something you do externally. Besides that, the system you prevail in gives a variation. Going for trays or ZOEM racks. With trays you would need less space, but the ZOEM rack system would give a better understanding of how it looks on a commercial scale.

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